Benchmarking the City of Manistee

October 2010, Report 365


As the City of Manistee worked through the budget process for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, it became clear that the budget would be one of many successive challenging budgets to put together. City policymakers were struck by the dwindling resources — from property taxes, state revenue sharing, etc.; by the need to engage LEAN manufacturing type principles for city operations to be as efficient as possible given the relatively small workforce already providing city services; and by the overall desire of the city to be a “Community of Choice,” a place where people will want to live, vacation, locate businesses, and recreate.

The comprehension of these needs led to a movement to have an assessment done of all the city departments and city operations. The Citizens Research Council of Michigan unsuccessfully bid to perform the services assessment as part of a team with Public Sector Consultants and Northern Initiatives. However, when the city contracted with Matrix Consulting Group, it requested that they subcontract with CRC to provide context of the Michigan environment, help with benchmarking Manistee against other cities, and to add expertise on issues of intergovernmental collaboration and other methods of alternative service delivery.

The city determined that the overarching purpose of the Operational Service Assessment was to “sustain, provide and develop city services in the most economically efficient manner, in keeping with the vision of the city to be a ‘community of choice on the northwest Michigan coastline.’” The city asked Matrix Consulting Group to “focus on departmental efficiencies, consolidation, collaboration with other entities, potential outsourcing of services, and a long term reorganization recommendation for the Department of Public Works, Police Department and Fire/EMS Department; and other departments as may be determined to be beneficial.”

When the project was finished, the city was expecting

  • “A thorough analysis and evaluation of functions, programs and services encompassed by existing city operations.
  • An assessment of anticipated future demand for city programs and services.
  • An assessment of how city functions, programs and services could potentially be carried out in a more cost effective manner through internal realignment, collaboration with other governments, outsourcing, or other considerations.
  • A recommended action plan for the city to consider, to achieve the purpose of this project, with an identification of actions that may be taken to sustain service levels and achieve the greatest cost reduction.”

Consistent with the stated desires of the city, Matrix Consulting Group:

  • Conducted interviews to identify trends and plans which impact operational, organizational, and management needs
  • Developed an understanding of the operations, organization and management of all departments in the city
  • Held public meetings and conducted resident surveys to gain stakeholder input
  • Analyzed the operations and staffing needs in each city department

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